Taking stock of 2015

As we come to the end of another year, I think it's a worthwhile practice to take stock of memorable and important professional and personal experiences from this sometimes turbulent, yet often inspiring 2015. Here's a list of some of the more important things that went down for me this year.

Collaborating with Jenny Macdonald on Enthroned

Skype rehearsing with Jenny, December 30, 2015.

Skype rehearsing with Jenny, December 30, 2015.

Working as a dramaturg and director on this project has certainly been a highlight of this year, and I can't wait to witness Jenny share her show with audiences in just two weeks! We're doing Skype rehearsals in anticipation of the January 14th opening as part of Dublin's First Fortnight Festival, and scenographer Troy Hourie and producer Michelle Cahill are busy sourcing props back and forth across the Big Pond. Can't wait to get in the room with all the team, including Sorcha Shanahan who holds down the fort there in Ireland when I can't be there in the studio.

 

We Were All Young Once at the Chapin School

Piecing together the script with Sarah Bellantoni.

Piecing together the script with Sarah Bellantoni.

This enthnodrama marked my first collaboration with high school students using this form, and it allowed me to collaborate with friends and colleagues Sarah Bellantoni, who co-created and directed the show, and Daryl Embry, who designed the scenic elements for the show. They were students a decade ago, two of my first at NYU. I've been working with Daryl for years, and it's always a great experience. This was my first collaboration with Sarah since our NYU days, and she taught me many lessons as we created this project with her students. I love when the roles reverse, and I'm grateful to Sarah for her patience and generous spirit.

 

In Real Time at NYU Steinhardt's Program in Educational Theatre

Image of full company by Chianan Yen.

Image of full company by Chianan Yen.

In February and March of this year, I worked with a company of student directors and actors to produce six of my short one act plays under the umbrella title In Real Time. It was a great experience to see the plays come alive on stage, and I had the opportunity to learn from the students and collaborate with some of my favorite theatre professionals: Andy Hall (scenic), Emily Stork (lighting), Márion Talán (costumes), and Talia Krispel (PSM). And I had the great fortune to meet and work with Sam Crawford (sound).

And one of the plays from In Real Time, Bromancing the OK, will be produced in a festival of short plays in New York City in April 2016: Mindflood produced by Torrent Theatre. Stay tuned for more information!

 

Animating the James & Ann Whitall House at Red Bank Battlefield

Actors performing in the herb garden behind the James & Ann Whitall House, National Park, NJ.

Actors performing in the herb garden behind the James & Ann Whitall House, National Park, NJ.

This site-specific performance project on a Revolutionary War Battlefield in southern New Jersey took three years to come to fruition, but it was one of the most gratifying projects I've ever worked on. A great team of actors and designers (Traci DiGesu and Márion Talán) carried the project to its pilot performances in June 2015, but none of it would have been possible without the amazing contributions of my four primary collaborators, Diane Robinson Macris of the Gloucester County Cultural and Heritage Commission, Sarah Misch, Robert Stevenson, and Liane Tomasetti. Another very important learning experience that helped me to understand where I want to head in 2016.

 

Ga(y)ze on 14th Street in Manhattan

Learning choreography for ga(y)ze.

Learning choreography for ga(y)ze.

Without a doubt, this project represented one of the highlights of my career as a theatre artist, so it certainly tops the list for 2015. A thrilling collaboration with my longtime friend and colleague Troy Hourie and choreographer Caleb Teicher, and continued work with designer Márion Talán and dramaturgs Keith Huff and Sarah Misch. Five great performers took a gigantic risk with us, made this piece in a weekend of workshops, and then shared it with voluntary and involuntary audience members on 14th Street between 3rd Avenue and Irving Place. It was one of the most exciting projects I've ever been a part of, and it taught me that fast and furious can yield deep and profound results. Special thanks to NYU Steinhardt's Forum on Site-Specific Performance for supporting this project!

 

A website overhaul

I've wanted to do a redesign of my website for quite some time, and I'm so grateful to Christine Carforo for her fantastic work. What a gift!

 

A PR in my last 15K

2015 started off with my long time running partner Anna Schmidt-MacKenzie moving to Oregon for an exciting new job. I thought that her move might spell the end of my running, but thankfully that was not the case. I miss running with Anna, particularly when it's hot and humid, as we both suffered together through those runs, but I've discovered a new appreciation for the solo run. And that translated into a new PR for me in the Ted Korbitt 15K: 1:11:38. I'll take it!

 

Developing a writing habit

I've been wanting to get my writing back on track for awhile now, and the relaunch of this blog and some advice from my trainer Jonathan Angelilli have allowed me to do just that. I publish on the blog three times a week, and I write every morning for 30 minutes in a notebook. Sometimes I just ramble, other times I plan my classes, and still other times, I just "work stuff out." I've been at the morning pages for four months and the blog posts for three. Hoping to get the blog posts up to five days a week in 2016. I have a rough draft of a full-length play, and I'm in the throes of writing the next one. I don't know if any of it's good or not, but I don't really care. Writing is something I both dread and look forward to, and I think that's what creation is: hard but gratifying work.

 

Less is more.

In the spirit of those three words, that's all I'm going to write. Take it for what it's worth.

 

Confronting my loneliness

The biggest challenge of 2015 is also the hardest to write about, but I think it deserves a shot. Particularly since that challenge created the largest seismic shift in my world that I've experienced in a long time. I realized early on in 2015 that I'd been battling loneliness for years, and I was losing. It was hard to see what I was fighting because from the outside I had no reason to feel lonely. I've got a great relationship with a person who I love and care about very much, loving families (both born into and created), supportive friends and collaborators, a good job, a nice house, a loyal cat, and the list goes on. That said, I felt like I was spending a lot of time by myself, and that alone time was playing tricks in my head. Being by myself has never been easy for me, and more recently I found myself falling into a lot of bad habits to try to combat those lonely feelings. I could see the bad habits, but instead of being able to change them, I just got depressed and they got worse. Thankfully, I eventually encountered a crisis, one that rattled my cage enough to wake me up and help me to see that the glass is actually way more full than it is empty, even when I'm literally by myself. From that moment forward, I've been able to embrace the time alone and put it to far more productive uses, even enjoy it, and I'm happy to say that life looks much better from this vantage point than it did a year ago. I'm grateful that I have patient people in my life, people who understand how to listen, to forgive, and to love. Without them, I'd not be able to write any of this yearly wrap up, much less this part of it. New York City may be a thriving metropolis full of people, but that fullness can also amplify feelings like loneliness. I think it's important to talk about, which is why I'm sharing it as part of this yearly wrap up.

Here's to an amazing 2016 with lots of exciting projects and opportunities for learning!

Happy New Year!